Imagine you are an employee. Everything you do has to be approved by your boss. You also have to inform him every time you go out for lunch and then again when you return. He constantly checks your work to see how everything is going. Lots of times, he does the tasks himself when it doesn’t turn out the way he wants it to be. He also makes sure that you have no idle time at work. Finally, he has the last say about everything in his business.
Does that sound like someone you have worked with? Could you be that kind of boss?
As a new business owner or manager, delegating tasks may be something you are not comfortable doing. It is very easy to want to control everything. So the default reaction when something goes wrong is to do it yourself and make sure that nothing goes without your approval. This is a sign of micromanagement and even when you think this is common, it does not mean it is acceptable or effective. In fact, it can be seriously harmful to your employees.
Let’s go back to the scenario above. As an employee, would this be an encouraging sort of workplace? Would it be something to look forward to every day? The obvious answer is no. Apparently, there are still many business owners and managers who micromanage their employees, which seriously affects them.
The Heavy Toll of Micromanagement
The experience of being micromanaged can take a heavy toll on an employee’s confidence and mental health. A confident and cheerful worker can become someone who is always anxious about their performance. And this anxiety might persist beyond work. Even during weekends or holidays, a stressed employee can dwell on the taxing experience of being micromanaged. Such an ordeal can only be endured for so long and at some point, an employee will want out.
This is no exaggeration. According to a study from Trinity Solutions, 70% of people who reported being micromanaged had considered quitting their jobs because of it and 36% actually changed jobs. So if you still think that micromanagement is good, think again.
It may not even feel like you are micromanaging even when you are. So it is important to know the effects of micromanagement on employees, its signs, and how to avoid them. Otherwise, you will be in an endless cycle of losing the best people in your company.
The Damaging Effects of Micromanagement
As previously stated micromanagement affects an employee’s mental health and productivity. It could be said that this is one of the worst, most damaging, and energy-draining ways of managing people. Of course, stress is expected at work but micromanagement multiplies that tenfold. The workplace becomes toxic because instead of focusing on completing the project, an employee now has to second-guess every task they fulfill. That is incredibly draining. Aside from stress, other negative effects of micromanagement also exist, including:
- Stifled career growth
- Impaired skill development
- Health problems due to anxiety
- Job insecurity
- Emotional strain
- Low self-confidence
- And even depression
Consequently, an employee will be less likely to take risks and innovate because he feels like walking on broken glass. Others will consider quitting to find the peace they need.
Signs of Micromanagement
There are a number of signs you can observe from micromanagers. Essentially, you will know that you are micromanaging when:
- Every task needs your approval.
- You constantly ask for updates.
- You find it difficult to delegate.
- You tend to complicate simple processes.
- You think you are always right.
If the signs above ring true for you, chances are that you are a micromanager. But perhaps these signs are only superficial. The root cause could be that micromanagers feel insecure if they do not know what is going on. That is why they thrive on details, which give them a false sense of security in their business operations even when it could be severely counterproductive.
How to Avoid Micromanagement
Going beyond the signs of micromanagement and its effects on employees, here are some ways to avoid micromanagement and promote healthy workplaces instead:
Learn to trust and delegate
Micromanagement is also an issue of trust. If you want to stop micromanaging, you have to believe that the person you hired can do the work you hired them to do. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of hiring that person if you always end up doing the job yourself. Once you learn to trust, then you can start delegating. Start with tasks that you are comfortable delegating to your employees and give them feedback when necessary. This way, work becomes more efficient. And employees get a chance to work on their strengths and improve without being undermined.
Exercise control with a clear direction and guidance to employees
Control is not always a bad thing. However, you have to do this with a clear direction in your head. Your employees cannot read your mind so it is best to set clear expectations if you want your employees to do things right. Furthermore, only provide guidance to your employees when necessary. You hired them in the first place so they should know what they are doing.
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback is a great way to develop a strong relationship with your employees. Sometimes, you may think that what you are doing is mentoring when it is actually micromanaging. That is why it is wise to ask your employees how they prefer to be managed. This way, your employees will know that you value trust and autonomy.
Now that you know how damaging micromanagement can be and how to avoid it, it is time to change your management style. From being a manager who controls everything to someone who knows how to delegate. When employees are confident and independent, job satisfaction, creativity, and morale are high. This is beneficial for you, your employees, and your business as a whole. Transform your company into a safe place for your employees so they can try out new ways of doing things, innovate and strive to be better.